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Esthetician Job Description

Estheticians are trained skincare professionals who provide clients with cosmetic treatments to the skin, particularly the areas of the face and neck. They are an essential part of the personal service and beauty industry workforce and often work alongside cosmetologists and massage therapists in spas and salons. They also provide assistance in various fields of medicine such as dermatology and plastic surgery and sometimes find employment in these types of medical offices. Since estheticians constantly interact with the clients and patients during their workday, they must have a pleasant demeanor and possess appropriate knowledge in order to instruct and assess the clientele.

Esthetician Duties

The procedures and duties estheticians can perform on a daily basis include:

  • Facials
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Peels
  • Laser treatments
  • Facial scrubs
  • Removing unwanted hair through waxing
  • Head and neck massages

 In addition to these performing these procedures, estheticians also:

  • Meet with clients or patients
  • Discuss potential treatments for their skincare issues
  • Suggest skincare regimens for clients
  • Sterilize equipment and work areas

Alternate Job Titles

Estheticians are also called skin care specialists, skin care therapists, skin therapists, and medical estheticians. Esthetician can also be spelled, aesthetician.

The Esthetician Outlook for 2017

Often looked upon as the red-headed stepchild of bodyworkers, the Esthetician is actually a profound and taxing discipline with great potential for growth. Once considered only an employee of high-end spas, limited to performing facials and unwanted hair removal, the profession is now developing in many ways: into individual practices emphasizing facial and skin self-care, into assistance with health issues and proactive anti-aging treatments, and working alongside surgeons to aid with recovery from specific surgical procedures. A growing part of the industry is developing “at-home” services, providing things like mobile facials and other spa-like treatments.

What is an esthetician?

The definition of esthetician is “a licensed professional who is an expert in maintaining and improving skin.” In the United States, this license includes a national certification exam after classes at a local educational institute. The esthetician is limited to a scope of practice involving only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. These treatments can include facials, wraps, peels, anti-aging treatments, and other treatments popularly known as “cosmetology.” They may also, after additional education, learn to perform advanced treatments such as the application of permanent makeup and usage of specialized tools for laser hair removal.

Growth Potential

The growth and yearly income outlook for estheticians are quite rosy, with over 10% growth in the field estimated over the next 10 years, faster than average for most professions. As our population ages, there are a much higher number of age-related skin issues to be dealt with, and the esthetician is a critical part of both acute treatments and maintenance of treatments for chronic conditions. Given the growth of the profession into fields like aromatherapy and individualized creation of packages of skin care products, there are also excellent prospects for the development of natural and preventative treatments.


Becoming an esthetician requires a fairly substantial amount of time. The average educational institution will require over 1,000 hours of combined classroom work and hands-on practice before licensing their graduates, culminating in a written and practical exam. There is also a national certification available, administered by the National Coalition of Estheticians Association (NCEA), renewable every 2 years by participation in a certain number of continuing education units annually. The price of becoming an esthetician can vary, averaging under $10,000 for a private education vs. just over $2,500 for schooling at a community college. Financial aid is normally available for those who qualify.
You may ask: “Is there training available near me?” The answer is usually yes – there are schools for estheticians available in most urban areas, as well as certification programs available through most colleges, community colleges, and technical institutes.

Financial Outlook

As with most independent health practitioner jobs, becoming an esthetician can provide a range of salaries, often depending on how many hours a person is willing to put into their career. The potential for income varies widely from state to state. In Charlotte, NC, for example, the average esthetician earns a salary of $36,000 annually, while in Denver or Colorado Springs, Colorado, an esthetician can expect about $27,000 yearly. States with a higher percentage of aging populations, such as Arizona and Florida can expect a greater demand for estheticians, and, accordingly, higher potential salaries. Along with the traditional positions in Spas, estheticians can also expect to find positions in medical facilities specializing in plastic surgery, “alternative” medicine practices, and in conjunction with practitioners such as doctors of oriental medicine and licensed massage therapists.

Self-employment vs. Salaried Positions

One of the great advantages of a career such as becoming an esthetician is the potential for self-employment, and the commensurate benefits of self-scheduling and increased earning potential. However, the total expenditures for licensing and education can be substantial, and outlay to open an independent practice can reach the tens of thousands of dollars. Specialised machines and other equipment costs can be high, depending on the breadth of services provided, as well as carrying complete product lines from skin product vendors such as Avid, Paul Mitchell or Spell. Also to be considered are the costs of insurance, a business license, uniforms, and, of course, rent.
Working within an existing location surrenders the ability to be your own boss, trading it for the stability of a structured schedule and existing clientele. A common practice after becoming certified is to work a few years for an existing employer before heading out and creating a solo practice. Alternatively, one could spend a few years working to develop a solid resume and then attempt to move to a more specialized or prestigious employer with commensurate higher pay.
Location is a prime motivator for this decision: there will be greater opportunities for a solo entrepreneur in a location such as NYC, Arizona AZ, or Tampa FL, than in regions with smaller aging populations such as Georgia or Maryland.

The Esthetician Outlook

This is a great time to join the ranks of bodyworkers by beginning your education as an esthetician. Excellent job growth and income compared to a relatively low cost of time and money to receive a certification means that a person could be working in their new field within a year of starting school. As our population ages and more specialized techniques are developed, the demand for estheticians will only grow. No matter which type of practice appeals to you, a position is available with the ranks of licensed estheticians. This is the time to investigate if becoming an esthetician is right for you.

How To Become An Esthetician

How Long Does It Take To Become An Esthetician?

The programs can vary in the number of class hours and practical hours required, but they are generally between 300 and 1500 hours depending on the state and can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months to complete. The program consists of classes in subject areas such as anatomy and physiology and the instruction of esthetic techniques such as chemical peels and facials.

Education Requirements

In order to become an esthetician, one must attend an accredited school that offers an esthetician diploma. Esthetician and/ or medical esthetician training can be obtained at technical or trade schools, beauty schools, or career colleges. After completing the required courses in the subject matter and numerous hours of clinical experience, graduates can take their state exam which usually consists of written, verbal, and practical segments.
The programs available at colleges to become an esthetician are often grouped under the heading of cosmetology, but skincare or esthetician programs are more specialized than general cosmetology diplomas and focus on the techniques and procedures performed by estheticians. In addition to classroom instruction, there is also an extensive hands-on component required of students in order to graduate. Hands-on instruction often consists of practical classes in waxing, massage, and facials.


All states require graduates of esthetician programs to become state licensed. The rules and regulations of each state vary, so it is wise to check the requirements in the state in which one wishes to become licensed.
In order to become licensed, the different states require students to graduate from an accredited program and then pass a mandatory state exam. Although the exams might differ from state to state, the licensing exam is always extensive and involves a written and practical component. After passing the exam, graduates become state licensed are eligible to seek employment in their respective states.

Job Outlook

Jobs for estheticians will grow by 25 percent until 2020, and there will be 11, 700 new jobs created in the field between the years of 2010 and 2020. This rate is faster than the average occupation. This is due to severalfactors. First, there is an increasing demand for skin care services, since many people in the United States wish to slow down the effects of aging. In addition, there are more salons and spas opening that can potentially offer employment opportunities to estheticians. Detailed esthetician salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
California $16.63 $34,600 4,370 0.31
Texas $15.70 $32,650 2,670 0.25
Florida $14.26 $29,650 2,450 0.34
New York $16.43 $34,170 2,310 0.27
Massachusetts $17.39 $36,170 1,810 0.56


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